Visiting an exotic land, far removed from your own, can be exhilarating, enticing and utterly enjoyable. As long as you don’t stuff up and end up in some cockroach-ridden jail for doing something which seemed perfectly acceptable to you at the time. While cultural acceptance and knowledge is on the increase in the Western world, there are still plenty of tourists doing, and saying, all the wrong things whilst visiting a Muslim country. Here at MyTravelMoney.co.uk, we think there’s nothing better than travelling to the Middle East to enjoy the incredibly gracious hospitality, delectable cuisine and explore some of the most important cultural sites in the world.
The following survival guide should see you become the epitome of courteousness in a land with many laws, practices and beliefs you may be unfamiliar with.
While it may be fine to hug brand new friends and plant a kiss on their cheek where you come from, this is a sure fire way to receive some disconcerting looks. Women should not shake hands with men, but can do so with other women but only if invited to. When greeting locals, men should raise their right palm to their heart and give a slight nod of the head. If you can’t do this without cracking up, practice at home before you go.
Getting drunk and dancing topless in a bar is perfectly acceptable in Ibiza, but not in Dubai. There, you may get arrested. In most Muslim countries, alcohol is only available in international Hotels but even then excessive consumption is a no-no. Don’t forget that should you break any local laws, your embassy’s not going to help you.
Some Muslim countries will not allow you to share a hotel room if you’re not married, so check before hand. PDI’s (public displays of affection) amongst people of opposite gender are frowned upon, so play it nice and safe. For women, a ‘fake’ wedding ring used to be a big enough deterrent for the local Don Juans, but we think they have caught on and this trick does not seem to be as effective as it once was. A real husband will work wonders.
Compared to Western countries, Muslim ones are very conservative when it comes to clothing. Men should be mindful to wear long trousers and long sleeved shirts; women should do the same. In some instances, like in Sudan and Saudia Arabia, a head scarf for women is compulsory. In others, like Egypt and Jordan, it is not so; but still regarded a sign of respect.
There’s really no need to memorize the Quran to enjoy visiting a Muslim country; be a humble guest and you’ll discover a culture worth exploring. Before you leave, check out MyTravelMoney.co.uk to buy UAE dirhams online at the best exchange rates